When comparing Apple MacBook Pro vs Dell XPS 15, the Slant community recommends Apple MacBook Pro for most people. In the question“What is the best laptop for programming?” Apple MacBook Pro is ranked 2nd while Dell XPS 15 is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose Apple MacBook Pro is:
OSX is based on XNU (Darwin) kernel, it's [certified Unix](http://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/certificates/1190p.pdf) and arguably a lot more developer friendly than Windows. Development for Unix is native on OS X. There's a large selection of great development tools available for OSX. The operating system itself comes bundled with a powerful terminal emulator, called Terminal. Additionally, Apple provides tools, like Xcode, an IDE that contains a comprehensive collection of tools for developing OSX and iOS software, for free.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro The default macOS is relatively developer friendly since it's a Unix
OSX is based on XNU (Darwin) kernel, it's certified Unix and arguably a lot more developer friendly than Windows. Development for Unix is native on OS X.
There's a large selection of great development tools available for OSX. The operating system itself comes bundled with a powerful terminal emulator, called Terminal. Additionally, Apple provides tools, like Xcode, an IDE that contains a comprehensive collection of tools for developing OSX and iOS software, for free.
Pro Fantastic display
The MacBook Pro has a sharp, color accurate 2560 x 1600 IPS display. It's bright at 500 nits, has great viewing angles (viewable at up to 178 degrees) and capable of displaying 87.3% of sRGB color gamut.
Pro Can run up to 3 external monitors and output 4K
With 2 Thunderbolt (DisplayPort) plugs and 1 HDMI, MBP can run up to 3 external monitors and output 4K over HDMI.
Pro Very portable
The latest MacBook Pro has a trimmed down design compared to predecessors. It's 0.61 inches (15.5 mm) thick and weighs 4.02 pounds. It's even thinner than MacBook Air.
Pro Good battery life
The battery drains in about 9 hours of typical use.
Pro Amazing build quality
The MacBook Pro has an all-aluminum body that looks great and is sturdy enough that worries of accidentally damaging are mostly alleviated. It has a robust lid, well-spaced back-lit keyboard with speakers on each side of the keyboard and an excellent button-less trackpad.
Pro Great performance
The MacBook Pro offers great performance both for day-to-day stuff and more niche graphic-related activities. The latest model also has had an update in hardware specs where both the CPU and GPU have been upgraded to their respective latest generations.
The 16GB to 32GB help with performance as well and the SSD speeds are unmatched in the laptop market which also helps with general performance.
Pro One of the best trackpads around
The Macbooks are renowned for having the best trackpad out of any laptop. It has full gesture support, you can configure in the software how much pressure you want before it physically clicks and the finger tracking is perfect.
Pro One of the best SSDs that can be found on a laptop
With read speeds at 3.1Gbps and write speeds at around 4.7Gbps, the SSD used in the MacBook Pro is the best in the market by far. This doesn't just mean opening/saving files is quicker, but it also has a pretty huge impact on general application performance.
Pro Good stability
Mac OS is very stable. It can run for multiple days without even needing a reboot, and the system is very crash proof.
Pro New OSX updates run on older models for quite a long time
Even older MacBooks are updated for a very long duration. Your MacBook won't get deprecated for quite a while.
Pro OSX/macOS and most software apps have great HiDPI support
Pro Plenty of RAM for multitasking
The MacBook Pro has up to 16 GB of RAM. That much RAM is perfect for running IDEs, emulators, and virtual machines.
Pro USB C Thunderbolt 3
On MacBook Pro, the ports support Thunderbolt data transfer at up to 40Gbps and USB data-transfer at up to 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2).
Pro Great keyboard
The 2017 Macbook uses the second generation of the "butterfly" keyboards first introduced in 2015. They feel different to use than most laptop keyboards as they are very shallow, but most people report really enjoying the keyboard after getting used to it.
Pro Radeon graphics, which enables basic gamedev
Radeon is not exactly ideal for gamedev, but is certainly a viable option (unlike some of the competition with onboard Intel).
Pro The OS is exceptionally easy to use
Macbooks are famous for working out of the box. The default operating system (macOS) is also exceptionally easy to use even for people who have never used it before. Most people will not need to customize or change anything since all the apps work perfectly as it is.
The people who like to customize things and tinker with their systems will also find it pretty easy to do, considering the fact that macOS is a Unix and allows varying degrees of control to users.
Pro Both the hardware and software are designed in-house
Both the operating system and the hardware are designed by Apple and are made to be as compatible as possible from the get-go. Any drawback that the hardware might have compared to competitors, is made up by the great compatibility between the hardware and OS.
Furthermore, because Apple controls the hardware that goes inside their laptops, they can be sure that every OS release will be fully compatible even with their older hardware, ensuring software compatibility for many years after the laptop is released.
Pro Availability of Xcode
Xcode is an program with which iOS applications are made. Xcode is exclusively available for Macs. You can download it in the Mac App Store.
Pro Amazing display
Two display choices are available for the XPS 15, an Ultra HD touchscreen or a Full HD non-touch screen. Both screens have a very wide array of colors as they cover approximately 100% of sRGB color space.
The viewing angle is around 170 degrees. However, at 45 degrees, slight color change can be noticed.
With around 350 nit output for brightness, it’s a viable choice for outdoor usage. All of this makes it an amazing display.
Pro Good battery life if you pick the 1080p display
Models with the 1080p screen last about 10 hours with general usage. Naturally, if more intensive tasks are involved, the battery will be drained faster.
Pro Solid keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad are reliable and solid all-around. The keyboard is responsive but is not super “clicky”, rather a bit soft. It has a white backlight on black keys that illuminates them at night. The touchpad is rather large while having no buttons. Despite this, the XPS 15 can reliably distinguish between the left and right clicks which are done on the trackpad itself.
Pro Optional password-free-sign-in via a fingerprint reader
For an additional $25 it’s possible to enjoy a password-free-sign-in by having a fingerprint reader. It will keep your laptop safe while still providing convenient access to it.
Pro Slick design
The whole design is quite stylish. The aluminium chassis provides a very clean look while the black carbon fiber palm rest with an almost borderless display cements it as a visually modern laptop. All of this is made with a premium build quality.
Pro Very well-rounded laptop
The cheapest configuration is a great choice for general non-intensive use - things like internet browsing, watching movies and similar tasks.
Whereas the more expensive configurations are gradually more capable of intensive tasks, like video editing or gaming. It’s not as good as a specialized computer built for a specific purpose, like a video editing laptop with an enormous RAM size or a gaming laptop with a superior graphics card, but it’s a very well-rounded, reliable laptop.
Pro Operates well on a Linux system
All essential things, like network connectivity, ports and sound, work right “out-of-the-box” with a Linux operating system. There is a compatibility issue on the new 9560 model with its graphics card but the laptop is still very usable with its integrated Intel graphics card.
Pro Can run most modern games
Being an excellent all-rounder, it can be used as a gaming laptop for games that are not exceptionally demanding, like Overwatch or Dota 2. Unless you’re using the cheapest model, you can expect a reasonable 60 frames per second for almost all modern games, provided that you’re willing to lower the game’s settings.
Con It's expensive
Compared to other ultrabooks such as the Dell XPS 13, the MacBook Pro is very expensive. For the latest (as of Dec 2017) MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 with dual-core i5 Processor, 8GB RAM, 256 SSD, the prices are $1.2k for the Dell XPS 13 and $1.5k for the MacBook Pro.
Con You need dongles or a dock to connect USB-A devices
There are no USB-A ports, so you'll need a dongle or a dock to use things like webcams.
Con You can't upgrade the internal RAM
RAM is soldered in, so you can't upgrade it.
Con Keyboard issues
The membrane can wear out rather quickly, which causes keys to become more and more unresponsive.
Con It's missing the ESC key
There is no physical function or escape keys as they have been replaced by a touchscreen, so for example, if you're a big Vim user and don't want to change your habits, the MacBook might be a poor choice.
Con Hard to repair or upgrade the hardware
The battery and other components are glued in, and the battery blocks access to other parts. The battery will wear out eventually, and the fact that it's glued in means that you cannot easily repair or upgrade a MacBook Pro.
Con No official Linux support
Apple doesn't support Linux. As for unofficial support by Linux community: as of 2017, Linux still has limited compatibility with 2016 Mac hardware (in particular, WiFi is working in a limited fashion, and audio and suspend/resume don't work at all). For details on "how to install Linux on a 2016+ Mac" click here.
Con Limited ports
The old adage form follows function seems to have been reversed. The laptop is elegant and thin, but missing PORTS and RAM. Once you add dongles or hubs it becomes unwieldy. Sure USB C may be the way of the future, but not right now. And again, if you are using VMs in your development, RAM is king and Apple took the decision to keep the laptop thin and max RAM (soldered in) at 16 Gb. The SSD is proprietary and welded in, again, you buy the 256Gb model and decide you want 1TB you are either SSD on USB C or trading in for a hideously more expensive model.
Con The keyboard has a unique feel and some people may need some time to get used to it
The keyboard on the MacBook is unique and some people may not like the way the keys feel to press or not having physical function keys.
Con RAM maxes at 16GB
Most pundits thought that a 32GB upgrade was in the offing for the 2016 refresh, but no still 16GB.
Con No real Delete key
Apple's particular ignorance about this is just baffling, and they've had a lot of opportunity to fix it. But their laptops (and small Bluetooth keyboards) still have no Delete key. They only have a Backspace key that's mislabeled "delete." This is annoying for every use, but particularly for programmers; we tend to delete things from the middle of lines and refactor code.
The best keyboard-remapping utility (KeyRemap4MacBook, now called Karabiner) was disabled by an OS update a couple of versions ago and had to be rewritten entirely. It's still not fully functional, but can be used to convert another key (I use F12) into Delete.
But Apple could have addressed this problem (which other vendors never suffered from) by simply making the now-defunct Eject key into Delete. They inexplicably didn't.
Con Requires the use of proprietary firmware
The source code of the firmware isn't available for users to audit or modify.
Con No Ethernet or FireWire ports
An adapter is required to transfer data over FireWire or connect to the Internet using an Ethernet cable.
Con Glossy screen
Apple has deleted the matte-screen option from its lineup, an unfortunate decision that reduces the usability of the computers and means you get less work done. You won't realize how much time you spend moving your head around to get reflections off whatever you're trying to see until you switch to a matte screen.
Those "deep blacks" and "rich colors" that you were supposed to get from a glossy screen are not present since they're buried behind a sheen of reflection under all lighting conditions.
It would be nicer to have a proper escape key, and the function keys back.
Con Screen anti-reflective coating issues
Con Battery life
Apple claims to squeeze 10 hours out of the battery. No where near close. When the 2017 model first launched, there were issues being reported left, right, and centre. Apple responded with a software update that removed the time estimate from the battery icon.
Con Battery doesn’t hold long with the Ultra HD screen
If you’re choosing the configuration with an Ultra HD screen, expect a very short battery life of around 6 hours for general usage. With more intensive tasks it's even less than that.
Con 9560 model's GPU has compatibility issues on Linux
The new 9560 model has some trouble accepting its GTX 1050 Ti video card while running a Linux operating system. Fortunately, the integrated Intel graphics card is capable enough to substitute it. The manufacturers are probably aware of the issue and will, most likely, release an update for it.
Con Palmrest collects sweat
The palm rest is made from carbon fiber which attracts fingerprints and sweat. After some time it gets kind of unpleasant to touch and needs to be cleaned.
Con Some ghosting in games
The display is not intended for gaming purposes so it can produce an effect called “ghosting”. Ghosting is when the pixels are not able to change their colors fast enough, so the color of the preceding frame can still be slightly seen on the next frame. This causes a blurring effect. Note that it only happens on high framerates coupled with fast objects.
Con Noisy fans
The laptop is very quiet during idle and light usage but when there is some workload, the fans get quite loud and distracting.
Con Awkward webcam location
The webcam is located under the screen instead of on top. It means that your face will be shown from a lower angle which can seem a bit weird. It also means that your fingers can partially obstruct the webcam while you’re typing.
Con Audible coil whine
Coil whine can be heard when it’s generally quiet and the fans are not running. Audible when the laptop is connected to the power supply. The manufacturers have acknowledged it as a problem and, if possible, will push out an update which should eliminate it. Until then, it’s still a gripe.